Joseph Stalin is famous not just for killing most of his foes (Assassinating Trotsky; show trials) and the starvation of 20-30 million "kulaks," but also for the Katyn massacre of about 22,000 Polish officers.
What's interesting about those 22,000 vs. the 20,000,000 that died in other ways? Stalin blamed the massacre on the Nazis rather than take the blame himself.*
...and that's what justifies the title to this post: Vladimir Putin (ex-President, current Prime Minister, and President-elect-in-waiting) is not just an admirer of Stalin -- he's also someone who I think is capable of using Stalin's methods: killing to advance his own cause while blaming others for those deaths.
Which deaths? The people who died in their beds when "Chechen terrorists" blew up four apartment buildings.
These attacks occurred in 1999, and they were directly relevant to the second Russian invasion of Chechnya and the subsequent rise of Mr Putin from nowhere to control over a state whose oil and gas wealth is exceeded only by its corruption and concentration of power in the hands of its politicians.
To make a long story short, Putin -- head of the KGB before he became president -- had the resources, incentives and temperament** to coordinate the attacks that would give him the keys to the kingdom. And anyone who has watched Russia since that surreal day when Yeltsin "revealed" Putin as the next president will see that Putin has wasted no time gathering power unto himself.
But wait -- even more interesting than all this backstory is the way that the "Putin blew them up" story has been treated in the media. I read the story in a US-edition of GQ. When I went to GQ's site to find a link to that article to post here, I found links to hot babes, casual ties, and sports analysis, but no link to the story.
What happened? Conde-Nast has suppressed the story on the internet and all its international editions, with some intention of "protecting" Russia and Putin from the nasty possibility that some people may question their legitimacy and morals.
This move was pretty stupid, since it called more attention to the story. Gawker published a WTF post, and others (here and here) have reposted the article in full.
Bottom Line: It's my belief that politics and economics are fused in
* Some (ex-Soviet) Russians still fail to acknowledge responsibility for this massacre.
** Unlike George Bush (who thought he saw Putin's soul in his eyes), I see real-politic in Putin's eyes.